Frequently Asked Questions

In the articles below, you will find answers to the questions our clients tend to ask us most. If you cannot find the answer you were looking for, please contact us directly. All of our contact-details can be found at the bottom of this page.

We are Novoville, a UK-based business focused on improving civic engagement, and driving innovation in the public sector.

As of 2020, we are a company of 25 people, with offices in London, Brussels and Athens. Our team has extensive experience in local and central government, data analytics, behavioural economics and software development.

We have received multiple awards and are one of the top 10 "GovTech" startups in Europe, serving 65 local authorities and 3.5m citizens across 4 European countries as of March 2020.

"GovTech" is a technology sector dedicated to improving how citizens and public administrations (local and national) interact.

For further information about Novoville and our work please visit www.novoville.com
We help local authorities tackle their most pressing challenges, while developing best-in-class technological solutions in the process.

Amongst other things, we run Athens' customer service shopfront in Greece, the West Midlands' mobile parking offering, and provide volunteering services in West Yorkshire.

We frequently run social-media based surveys for local councils.
The CivTech program is a Scottish Government-backed incubator and accelerator designed to assist local authorities, innovative entrepreneurs and start-up companies working together.

During the 2019/2020 edition, the City of Edinburgh Council picked Novoville to develop a proof-of-concept for a solution aimed at improving the condition of privately-owned tenements in Edinburgh.

The Novoville Shared Repairs app is the result of this collaboration and we're very proud of it! Novoville is a private business, however the company did receive some public "seed" funding for this project.
The Novoville Shared Repairs app is here to help you organise and implement a shared (or "common") repair within your tenement. That is, to implement maintenance or repair or an improvement to a common part of the tenement that involves all the owners in the block (or "tenement").

It is designed to accompany you all the way from first noticing a problem to having works carried out and paid for, in accordance with either the provisions contained in the relevant title deeds or by utilising the terms of the Tenements (Scotland) Act 2004.

It will allow you to:
- invite fellow owners into a shared space dedicated to your building within the app
- understand what kind of issue you are facing and report it
- communicate will all owners
- conduct a vote to approve the proposed works
- compare contractor quotes and hire them
- pay your share into a secure shared account dedicated to repairs, maintenance and improvements

You can expect this app and its functionalities to be frequently updated with new content, new features, and new ways to assist you in keeping your tenement maintained (and the city looking good).
We have designed this app so that you do things in the order most useful and efficient for all parties involved.

Some steps are prerequisite to others. For instance, you need to provide a report on the proposed common repair to the trader before you can get an accurate quote. If you require the Council’s assistance to release the identity of an owner, they require evidence of a quote that is an eligible common repair.

We've kept all of this in mind so that if you follow the path laid out, you will get to your destination!

Of course, if you hit a roadblock, you can contact srhelpdesk@novoville.com
You can of course proceed without this app. Under One Roof and the City of Edinburgh Council's website remains your best source of information.

They provide template forms and letters to engage with owners. Then, you will have to select contractors from Google, or a trusted person, and create a bank account with a bank or building society to pay into.

Many have done it, but it is definitely more of a hassle, and a lengthier process. So much so, in fact, that crucial repairs often don’t get done. That’s why we’re here.
The Council can only help once you have taken certain steps towards initiating the repair, such has obtaining a quote for the proposed work.

For instance, they can only release the identity of the owner of a property after you've tried contacting them yourself, and you can show quotes from traders for actual common repairs.

They can only pay a "missing share" for a repair if you have previously invited them to vote on the issue.

Don't worry, the app will signpost you every step of the way.

Sometimes, it might be worth contacting the Shared Repairs Service to get their opinion on your problem. But you should first read this app's FAQ.
Engaging in routine and punctual maintenance is part and parcel of home ownership.

Many homeowners still do not sufficiently factor the cost of upkeep into their budget. This is often said to be between 1% and 4% of the total cost of the property.Some buildings, such as Edinburgh's pre-1919 tenements, may be more costly to maintenance particularly if they have been neglected over a long period of time.

Maintenance doesn't just preserve the built heritage for future generations. It also saves you money in the long term by preventing reactive (and more expensive) repairs. It can also protect and increase the value of your house on the market, as well maintained buildings will be sold at a premium.

Maintaining your house is like cleaning your teeth. You do it every day so you avoid that painful day...
You can of course proceed without the app. Under One Roof and the City of Edinburgh Council's website remains your best source of information.

They provide template forms and letters to engage with owners. Then, you will have to select contractors from Google, or a trusted person, and create a bank account with a bank or building society to pay into.

Many have done it, but it is definitely more of a hassle, and a lengthier process. So much so, in fact, that crucial repairs often don’t get done. That’s why we’re here.
It depends on how diligent you (but also others) can be.

With a bit of preparation, you can purchase maintenance in a day, get a "small" shared repair done in a week, and a big one in just a few months.

If everybody complies, this app is designed to get you there faster. Remember, every owner has a responsibility to play along.
At the moment, this is not the app for you if you are looking to carry out any repairs or maintenance within or to your own exclusive property, such as a plumbing problem with your sink, or broken floorboards.

The app is specifically designed for implementing maintenance or repairs or improvements to common parts defined by your title deeds, or the Tenement Management Scheme (often referred to as TMS) in the Tenements (Scotland) Act 2004.

Repairs to such areas are the shared responsibility of all or some flats or commercial property owners within the relevant tenement, depending on the terms of your title deeds or as defined in the TMS.

If you also already have an appointed factor in your building, then you should be contacting them tot take the lead on Shared Repairs and not take up that burden yourself. You should still keep the app, however, as property factors can create an account and keep you in the loop through it. If you have an existing factor, tell them about the Novoville Shared Repairs App.

More will come, but in a bit of time!
Not everyone in the tenement might use a smartphone. Taking this into consideration, we have made it possible for you to involve everyone, regardless of whether they are able to use this app or not.

All owners must be given a fair chance of participating in the process. You must, notify them of the steps you are taking, and record their vote.

The app contains the following letters to help you:
- notification of defects
- invitation to vote
- notice of scheme decision
- notice of payment (only available if you have opened a Modulr account in the app)

These can be found in the Repair Details section, and are automatically pre-filled with information about the repair in question.

Note: you should ideally be taking pictures in order to have evidence, if asked, that you did post these letters or slip them under their door. Alternatively, you can ask someone else from the stair to be with you when you do so.

How can non-smartphone users vote?

They need to tell one of the owners what their vote is. This person is then responsible for voting on their behalf, in the app. To vote on behalf of someone, just click on the "Record a Vote" button on the quote of the trader they would like to vote for. The app will ask you if you are voting for yourself or for somebody else.
The app is organised so that sections appear as you progress through each step.

The first step is to organise your tenement by creating flats and inviting owners. The second step is to create a repair. After creating your repair, new sections will be available inside the "Repair" card to continue the process.

Make sure you read the content you are presented with, and access any help-text by clicking on the blue "i" button to the right of your screen.

The app will not surprise you: you will never pay money without explicit consent, a formal voting procedure, and many other safeguards. You will never agree to something you don't want to. You don't have to use the app if you don't want to.

Bear this in mind: it is an owner's responsibility to keep their property in good condition. This app is only designed to help you comply with the law, and save you time in the process.
You must ensure you understand exactly how many separate properties are involved in your tenement, and in the specific repair.

You must ensure that you know whether your Title Deeds provide for how the repair should be conducted (what the majority is, what the apportionment (individual share) is, etc.)

You should seek legal advice from a solicitor about your and other owner's Deeds if you cannot interpret them yourself. This is usually taken on as a private cost.

You must choose whether to go ahead with your repair under any Title Deeds provision, or the Tenement Management Scheme (TMS) acting as background law.

If the Title Deeds provide for how the repair should be conducted, but you proceed on the basis of the TMS anyway, you must understand this can be challenged in court by one of the tenement owners.

You must ensure to invite all owners to join, inform them about the repair, and invite them to vote. The app will help you with all of this.
This account, provided by Modulr Finance, an FCA-regulated financial services provider, is the online 'wallet' for your tenement. It is called an "operating account" in our T&Cs.

The account is set up in the name of one of the proprietors, who acts on behalf of the tenement. This means that you are the owner of the account and the money within it (Novoville has no rights over it). Any user can create the operating account. This person becomes a “treasurer” for the tenement. They have control over outbound payments from the account to the chosen Trader.

Modulr Finance is the same company that provides digital accounts of Revolut, the online bank. Modulr's FAQ can be found here: https://www.modulrfinance.com/faq

Novoville is an FCA-registered “agent” of Modulr, as can be seen on the FCA’s website:
https://register.fca.org.uk/s/firm?id=0014G00002gTIg6QAG

If you have any questions about the operation of your account within the app, you should contact our helpdesk (our contact details are below).
What is it?

A property law reform brought into force on 28 November 2004.

What does it do?

It provides a structure for the management of tenements, including maintenance, when this is not provided for in the owner's "Title Deeds". It includes the "Tenement Management Scheme" (also referred to as TMS) as its main instrument.

Why do we need it?

Rules governing the maintenance and management of tenements have developed since the 17th Century (as part of Common law). They have helped to impose obligations on owners to adhere to a specific regime for management and repair for their tenement. So called "burdens" are drawn up to suit the particular circumstances of the tenement. The "burdens" are one of the sections of the Title Deeds.

However, not all title deeds are comprehensive and they do not always provide "burdens" to specify how the owners are to decide on matters of mutual interest (such as common repairs). This is why the Tenement Act has been designed.

Most tenements, particularly new tenements, will have a detailed system of management provided by the title deeds to the property. The TMS (as part of the Act) will only apply where there is a gap in the title deeds.

How do we use it?

The common law acts as a background, or "default" law. If title deeds make no provision on one matter, then the Act and its main instrument, the TMS, will apply on that one matter.

You can view the Act here: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/asp/2004/11/contents
If you have identified an issue which is probably going to require a repair, you will need to check your and other owner's Title Deeds to see if there are any rules about how the costs should be shared, or what majority should be applied. This is often referred to as the "burdens" for the property.

First, though, make sure you are reasonably confident that the issue is located in an area which usually falls under a shared or common burden.

If indeed you suspect or know that the issue is in a common area, the Title Deeds may tell you more about
- who is concerned with this common repair. A shared chimney might only be the burden of 4 of the property owners. A shared roof could concern everybody.
- what the apportionment is for each person concerned (share of the burden)
- if a specific majority should be applied

Workable Deeds always take precedence over the Tenement (Scotland) Act, which otherwise defines common areas and acts as default law.

If the Title Deeds are unworkable or silent on the issue you are trying to solve, then the Tenement (Scotland) Act applies. In the majority of cases, it prescribes an equal share of the burden. The only exception is when one of the flats is significantly bigger than others, in which case the burden is proportional to the flat's square footage over the total square footage of the building.
Novoville Shared Repairs is more than just an app: it is an integrated ecosystem bringing you all the players you need to get the right repair done at the most competitive cost.

That said, while we introduce you to traders, surveyors, or even solicitors, we do not endorse any of them, nor do we restrict you from choosing someone else.

We simply provide you with a service that helps you get where you want to be. You are free not to engage with the app, or to use certain of its features only.

Novoville is a private business, and without this fee, we couldn't run this service. If you would like to know more about us, please visit the "The App" section of the Help / FAQ pages.

The contract for your building repair will be between the participants of the Scheme (any owner identified as liable under the burdens of the Title Deeds, or the TMS) and the contractor. It will not be between Novoville and the Scheme. More information about this can be found in our terms and conditions.

Novoville perceives a fee for making the introduction. This fee is a fraction of the total cost of the repair and included in the price quoted to you in the app.

If you do not want to pay the fee, you are still free to use the virtual tenement, discussions board, and reporting functions. But do not contact traders through the app. If they receive your report from the app, then they are contractually obligated to respond through there, and our fee is payable.
When can I vote?

Voting is open after you have received a minimum of one quote from a trader and when all owners involved in the repair have accepted the Declaration.

How can I vote?

On the Repair Details screen, scroll down to the section called "Hire a Trader". A blue "Record a Vote" button has appeared on their quote. Tap this button when you want to record a vote for this particular trader.

You are then asked whether you want to vote for your property, or somebody else's (for people who do not use the app).

Can I vote for someone else?

Yes. When you click on the "Record a Vote" button, you will be asked if you are voting for your property, or someone else's. This is designed for cases where not all voters are able to use the app. When you vote on behalf of another homeowner, you must input information about the individual you are voting for. They will receive a text message or email confirming the information and vote that has been submitted on their behalf.

Can I change my vote after recording it?

Yes. Click on "Record a Vote" for the new contractor you would like to vote for, and select "Vote for my flat". This features allows you to change the vote you had recorded.

Can I change my vote after a "Scheme Decision" has been reached?

No. This is why you must think carefully about your vote and discuss with fellow owners. There should be as much consensus as possible about what quote to pick.

How many votes in favour are needed for a "Scheme Decision" when a "simple majority" is required?

More than 50%. Be careful: half is not enough. You need 3 out of 4, 9 out of 16, or 11 out of 20, for example.

How is the majority calculated?

A majority is calculated by dividing the number of votes in favour by the total number of shares (i.e., flats or commercial properties) in the tenement, not in the app itself. The app allows you to record the vote of other proprietors who do not use the app.

If that number is 50% or higher, then the required majority has been reached to approve common maintenance or repairs.

In other words, property owners who are not in the app do count! If they have not engaged with you, or provided you with a vote, their vote counts as a "null" ballot. Closing the vote without recording a vote counts them as "null", automatically.

For instance, if the tenement has 12 properties, and the app has only 8 participants, the majority required is 6 to approve a common maintenance or repair under with a simple majority (50% of the total number of owners, not 50% of the number of app users).

What if I want to change the vote after the "Scheme Decision" has been reached?

You will need to appeal to the Sheriff's court to get the decision annulled. You must have legal grounds to do so (such as having been pressured or intimidated, or impersonated, etc.) If you want to change your vote because you do not have the funds available, this is not the correct route. There are ways you can set up instalment plans, get funding, raise money or agree to lower your share with other owners, rather than to block the whole process completely.
Surveyors are a regulated profession which provide consultancy and project management for housing-related issues. They can help you appraise your tenement, get a complete picture of its condition and manage a large common repair (such as a roof repair, for instance).

In conservation areas, we would recommend you consult with surveyors accredited in conservation work.

Getting a condition report from a surveyor (not to be confused with an in-depth survey) is often the first step in engaging Chartered Surveyors to maintain or repair your tenement.They can also be useful in setting up a maintenance plan going forward.

In many cases, they can help you get a repair done right. They charge a fee (often between 10% and 15%) to manage projects.

This app does not yet deal with surveyors, but we have plans to help you streamline engaging them and contracting them, if you need to. Stay tuned!
Novoville Shared Repairs has been developed to help homeowners in the private market carry out common repairs, maintenance or improvements to their tenement properties in a simple and more efficient manner.

Our goals are:
- to help owners organise any common works jointly with other homeowners in their tenement
- to support important maintenance work in the city
- to integrate all actors into one place
- to remove the burden of communication, transparency, and administration away from any one person